The Annual Number of The Modern Rationalist on the eve of the birth day of the nonagenarian Leader of the Tamils is not merely a nice bouquet to him but a valid document recalling his inimitable services on the path of the Dravidian pater familias. I am yet to see a person in the whole of the country who has elevated the ideals of his great leader as much as Dr.Veeramani has done to those of his mentor regionally, nationally and even internationally. This multi-colour souvenir which speaks in comparison to that of globally reputed monthly National Geographic is therefore a befitting volume to honour that stupendous Stalwart of Social Justice.
Mention may be made of the best wishes to Asiriyar including those of the Honble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, the erstwhiles of Karnataka, Pondichery, number of respectable Justices, parliamentarians, party leaders and well wishers from Odisha, Hyderabad, New Delhi, the USA, Australia, Germany, Singapore and Malaysia.
Asiriyar’s Message in his ninth decade is meritorious and masculine as that of an energetic young man of strategic heroism. His appeal to verve and vigorous firmness to confront the combat of 2024 election may be passed on to the great leaders of India to energise them to counter the threatening saffronism. Quoting Shakespeare he says, Age cannot wither him. Let me add further, “nor custom stale his infinite variety” of servicing for social justice through his lectures, writings and agitations as the last resort. His interview to The Times of India is one more example of his versatility.
Prof.Naganathan refers to the Ideals of various social reformers such as Carvaka, Buddha, Karl Marx, Periyar and Ambedkar. The one by Mr.Murasoli Selvam recalls how the Chief Minister Karunanidhi evinced an interest to find out the reactions of Dr.Veeramani on various issues of the State. Mr. Narendra Nayak bemoans that our society in the 21st century is super imposed on the 16th century mindset, and also masks the questionable deals of Babas, Sadgurus and Avatars. Dr.Justice A.K. Rajan speaks in details about the management of religious affairs and various kinds of temples besides pointing that the law permits even secular authorities to administer the property of various religions. A brief note of Dr. Soma Ilangovan of USA throws light on the friendly virtues, economy in spending and camaraderie of Asiriyar. The write-up of
Dr. Saroja Ilangovan capsules the life-sketch of the leader and wishes him a long life.
The concept of secularism is very well explained, besides saying that the first secular voice was that of Vallalar in an essay by Justice D. Hariparanthaman. Dr.Maraimalai Ilakkuvan refuted Tamil Nadu Governor’s fallacious claim of attaching God with Thirukkural. How Social Justice has been administered from the twenties of the last century much against the partial treatment of the communalist higher – ups right from the days of the Justice Party and the continuance of such reformation by the DMK are summed up by Justice C.T.Selvam. Quoting the recent UGC circular, Mr.A.Karunanandan outlines how far the Hindutva agenda is tampering with the fundamentals of the Constitution of 1950.
Dr.A.G.Xavier has pointed out that Denial of education prevented the commoners to understand the trickery of the caste system until Periyar and Ambedkar opened the eyes. The reason why Dr.Ambedkar gave up Hinduism and why he burnt Manusmriti along with his adoration of 22 oaths installed by his Dheekshaboomi at Nagpur are very well illustrated by Dr.S.Devadoss. Dr.Arasu Chellaiah of the USA recollects how for the impact of Asiriyar’s speeches and books have gone into the rationalists of America and also a parallel of thinking between his innumerable humanistic essays and that of a book titled Thoughts to Live written by Dr.Maxwell Maltz.
Mr.Sukumaran of the Rationalist Association regrets that Science is taught only as an academic discipline but the scientific temper is yet to come up even among the scientists. Iringal Krishnan of Kerala Yukthivathi Sangam happily recollects how fast Dr.Veeramani was lovable in his personal touch and to what extent he is an eminent successor to Thanthai Periyar.
Auditor R.Ramachandran shares his experiences with Asiriyar, recollecting how far Asiriyar worked hard to retrieve the Trust properties of the Kazhagam from the rigmarole of the IT Department. Prof.Velusami, the Vice – chancellor enumerates the appreciation and accreditation the Periyar Maniammai Institute of Science and Technology has received so far and highlights all the aspects in which the great Deemed to be University is marching ahead successfully. Dr.V.Shunmugasundaram, briefly recollects his contact with Asiriyar and his eminent role as a speaker and writer. Dr.Nam.Srinivasan points out the entirety of Asiriyar’s publications. As a champion working for the welfare of the Backward Classes, G.Karunanidhy underlines the importance of conducting the Caste-wise census all over the country. Periyar’s unrelenting fight against Varnashrama and the kinship of Social respect and Self Respect are the themes elucidated by Dr.Jagadeesan. A brief note on the simplicity, scholarliness and strenuous work of Asiriyar along with a comparative note of a number of Indian nonagenarians is the gist of an article by Dr.Palani Arangasamy.
How the power at the Centre is not only neglecting the scientific temper but also tacitly supporting the self – claimed god-men such as Juggi, Ravishankar, Nithya and Kalki is the main theme of an essay by Mr.Narendra Nayak. From 9 to 90 is a brief but informative sketch by Dr.Ravishankar that capsules the achievement of Asiriyar as a leader and a writer. Indoctrinating religion among innocent children is as risky as that of using children as cannon – fodder, says Mr.Puhazh Gandhi. Poet Kali. Poongundran has enlisted the agitations and other socio – political achievements of Asiriyar. An article by Mr.Arivukkarasu shatters the concept of theism and another one by Ennares Periyar is on the need for social justice. The highly informative article by Dr.Gowthaman points out the importance of medical checkup and certain recent advances in medical science.
The mega project, Periyar world at Siruganoor systematically growing to become as much equal as to the globally renowned Disneyland is delineated by Mr.V.Anburaj. An essay at length by Mr.V.Kumaresan elaborates how far our renowned Asiriyar has strained every nerve to see that the sixty nine percentage of reservation has been made a fait accompli to the Backward communities.
Two valid Supplements – one on the gorgeous 90th Birth Day Celebration of the Asiriyar on 02.12.2022 at Chennai and the other one about International Humanism Conference on (IHC) Social Justice at Toronto, Canada on the 24 and 25 Sep. 2022. In the former the Hon’ble Chief Minister M.K.Stalin felicitated Asiriyar followed by various political leaders. The highlight of the function was that in his Speech of Acceptance to the leaders, Asiriyar has said with all his inestimable laconic brevity that “we are ready to be Not Beside you but Before you as a Protective shield”.
In the other function at Canada, overseas delegates participated and spoke on various topics under Humanism, Social Justice and Self Respect. The keynote address by Asiriyar Dr.K.Veeramani was delivered through Video on the elimination of caste and on instilling equality. There was also a video presentation with the Message of Greetings by Hon’ble Chief Minister M.K.Stalin. The President of Humanist Canada Mr. Martin Firth, conferred Humanist Achievement Award 2022 on Asiriyar in recognition of his lifelong contribution to Humanism. In the presence of Dr.Soma Ilangovan and Arul Selvi Balaguru of the USA, Mr.V.Kumaresan, Treasurer, Dravidar Kazhagam received the Award on behalf of Asiriyar.
The reviewer craves patience of the readers to understand his limitations such as the economy of space and also his tough task of having capsuled to the extent possible, such a veritable illustrated and highly informative volume which deserves to be read and to be re-read before keeping it as an invaluable treasure in the shelf.